2013 Harvard-MIT Math Tournament

by Victor Chen, Troy High School, Class of 2016

On Saturday, November 9th, two Orange County Math Circle teams competed at the 2013 Harvard-MIT November Tournament, alongside over 100 other teams from all over the world. Victor Chen, Eric Xu, Michelle Chen, Jonathan Huang, Benjamin Chen, and Hyun Jong Kim represented the OCMC A team, while the B team consisted of Insung (Terry) Jo, Jeyla Aranjo, Thomas Kwa, and Aran Komatsuzaki.

The day before, the majority of the team members had arrived in Boston at around 6 PM, before heading out for a reunion with several old friends at MIT and Harvard. On the morning of the competition, both teams met up at MIT's Lobby 10, grabbing some breakfast of bagels, donuts, and muffins while chatting with past acquaintances who had also moved to East Coast for school. With the first test of the day coming up, the teams went to the testing hall.

The first test they were faced with was the individual General Test, a 10 question test with problems of increasing difficulty and point value that lasts for 50 minutes. After a short break, the individual Theme Test was administered, consisting of two sets of 5 problems given at the same time, each with its own theme. This year, the participants spent 50 minutes figuring out problems on "Traveling" and "Bases".

Upon finishing the individual testing, the two teams were split up into different rooms to take first team test. In this round, the members work together to solve problems that are generally more difficult than those in the individual rounds. In 60 minutes, they needed to solve 10 short answer problems, again of varying difficulty. This year, there were three sections in the team round, each separated by theme: “Expected Value,” “Power of a Point,” and “Periodicity.”

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With most of the testing done, the teams went to lunch, and then split up to attend the several mini events available, including lectures on interesting topics in mathematics. Then, finally, it was time for the Guts Round.

An 80-minute team event with 36 possible short-answer questions on an assortment of subjects and of varying difficulty and point values, the Guts Round problems come in groups of 3. Each team's designated runner at the starting signal picks up copies of the first problem set for their team. Only after they complete a set can a team choose problems for the next set. Scores, displayed in real time, create an intensely competitive and fierce round.

After an even start of most teams getting all of the easier questions correct, soon three teams pulled far ahead of the rest of the competition. Beijing STFX 1, PEA Red, and OCMC A were locked in a very close race as each of the teams jumped over the others as they raced to turn in their finished sets. Even as the end of the time limit approached, there was still no clear winner. Finally, the round ended with STFX taking first and OCMC A scoring just 1 point less than PEA Red and over 50 points ahead of the 4th place team.

The results were impressive. The A team missed only one question on the short answer Team Round, placing 2nd in that round! Besides scoring 3rd in the Guts Round, they also placed 3rd overall in the Team Sweepstakes. While Michelle Chen tied for 10th in the Theme Round and Eric Xu tied for 6th in the General Round, they both tied for 12th as overall individuals out of over 600 other participants. The OCMC B team also did well, receiving 19th in Team Sweepstakes!

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